“That’s it; I’m done with politics – for now!” So said a friend last week when we ventured out for our first walk-for-exercise after the February 18 vote.
Walking long distances – over 5km – offers one a good opportunity to reflect and mull over issues; and when you walk with friends, there is time to talk over matters more deeply.
Right now, the talk all over the country is about the presidential election results. Did President Museveni really win with 60%? Is it possible to have a polling station with over 2,000 voters – how did they manage to vote in the limited time available?
What will happen with Kizza Besigye (KB) – will he remain under house arrest until 2021? How does the government extricate itself from this KB dilemma honourably? How far can the Amama Mbabazi elections petition in court go?
Those are the questions over which we, too, pondered on our walk. It does not help that NRM functionaries have generated even more questions, especially regarding intrigue in their circles.
The minister for Kampala, Frank Tumwebaze, complained in a public statement, about the fate of KCCA after NRM losses in Kampala, that there are NRM people who give Museveni false and malicious reports putting down others! Has he ever supplied such reports as lord mayor Erias Lukwago alleges?
Then there is newly-retired General Henry Tumukunde, who was involved in a late-night fracas during the elections for the western Uganda youth member of parliament.
Tumukunde’s son was running against state minister Bright Rwamirama’s son for the position. Rwamirama’s son is the NRM flag bearer, but it is safe to assume that both contestants are NRM.
Tumukunde has claimed that the deployment of the military was meant to intimidate and that the commanding officer, one Lt Col Karugaba, had been instructed to shoot him. All this seems incredible but opposition politicians, especially those linked to the Go Forward team, have made several complaints about Tumukunde’s acts of voter intimidation using a helicopter during the presidential campaigns!
However, I digress! It is the heavy military deployment around the Kololo ceremonial grounds (formerly known as the airstrip) that provoked my friend’s despair. You would be forgiven for thinking that war is imminent if you were to walk round the grounds.
There are soldiers everywhere, plenty of military equipment, small camouflage tents perhaps similar to those used in the trenches and an area with tables perhaps for senior officers to plan strategy!
Unlike my friend, I shall not give up on politics in Uganda. However, I will not be walking around that place or any other where heavy security is deployed. I fear even to think of what would happen if a shot were to go off by accident!
Now the question is: why is government deploying armed security, especially in urban places? Everyone knows that Uganda is a secure and stable country. The president has been saying this during the entire campaign that not one person is capable of causing commotion. And we believe him.
Consequently, this seeming preparedness for war is not about the opposition and neither is it about KB who is quickly gaining sainthood with every government action against him. It is about containing our youth. And for sure, KB is guaranteed a large following of youths in any town, any day and at any time. The majority are idle, unemployed and believe that KB has understood their plight – their yearning for work and a good life.
Robert Kabushenga of Vision Group wrote about this way back in August 2013. He argued that it is important to create work and commercial opportunity for young people immediately; otherwise, it is a “recipe for social upheaval that will have no distinction for political inclination” and that the “high social cost which will be paid in full by all of us (including those seeking to exploit the issue opportunistically) and irrespective of our various persuasions.” http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1328787/uganda-address-urgently#sthash.F8x8aEsl.dpuf. Are we close to this?
Like many others, I voted for democracy and peace; however, a couple of Kigo Thinkers have sent me two disturbing messages. The first message reflects on why millions are spent per day to contain KB when there is Karamoja. The second claims that the “absence of war does not mean peace!” Stuff to mull over!
However, it is not all doom and gloom; possibilities do exist for our youth. Two of my students spent their elections-extended three-month holiday in the most creative of ways. I will share their stories next week.
The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.